Wisdom has it, a major key to mastering our lives is to live by our values.
Disorganization can place a heavy price-tag on our personal integrity. Dreams go unfulfilled when our stuff takes more energy than our visions. Values go by the wayside when unmanagabiity with time and stuff creates distraction, procrastination and avoidance.
shares her journey of coming out of denial around her personal disorganization that rendered her best intentions to shape and shift the world moot, becuase she couldn’t get out the front door with the car keys or the documents she needed. When Marilyn took on her disorganization like the worthy project it was, everything shifted. It took time, curiosity, patience, trial and error, discovery and commitment, but through it she gained dignity, integrity, and power.
Organizing One Value At a Time
Our values lie at the shiny center of who we are.
They can become distorted, obscured or ignored, but they remain integral. They can be the spark of inspiration for change.
They can also give us the motivation we need when our spirits flag from our efforts to change the habitual patterns with stuff and time that may have gotten us stuck.
Here’s a small practical, personal example:
I learned a few facts a while ago that put me in action. I learned that 28 billion single-serving bottles of water are purchased each year in the United States. It takes 17 million barrels of oil (enough to fuel a million cars for a year) to produce these bottles. Only 20% get recycled and some wind up as ocean debris – those big plastic islands you may have seen pictures of. As a lover of this Earth, and a supporter of peace, this tugs at my core.
So…..I made a commitment
last year to stop purchasing plastic bottles.
Sound like an easy commitment, right?
Well, between forgetting my pretty metal eco-water bottle at home, rushing out without time to refill it, and leaving a series of them on subways and under movie theater seats, I resorted to more plastic purchases than I would have liked.
Finally, with continued determination and refinement, I’ve got a backpack that’s replaced my handbag. It’s got a side holder that perfectly houses my Camel bottle — so the bottle never has a chance to escape under a seat, or park bench. I’ve got two bottles I fill daily, so they’re in rotation – there’s always a backup in the fridge to grab when I’m in a rush, and I always make sure there’s one in my backpack, even at home – so there’s no chance I leave without it. It takes me a few minutes of conscious effort a day to make sure the bottles are filled and nestled into my pack and fridge.
It took almost a year to get this system down.
Am I deluding myself that MY re-fillable water bottle is saving the planet? Nope. Do I feel better, keeping my personal commitment to not purchasing more plastic bottles? Absolutely! And by allowing my values to lead my efforts
to get organized – I practiced problem-solving skills to find a system that works for me.
I can apply these problem-solving skills to other areas of my life that need organizing. And the system I’ve developed has a ripple effect.
While I’m filling my water bottles, I’ll often take another 3 minutes to wash up whatever dishes are in the sink, or discard the expired leftovers in the fridge, keeping my space clear, and further enhancing the shiny feeling I’ve cultivated.
The pay-off of esteem I get for living my eco-value gives me mojo I can apply to other areas of my life. I can change my world – and the bigger world – one value at a time.
I’m a firm believer we can all find the organization we need to live empowered in the world, getting the results we desire for ourselves. If you can trust a process of curiosity, trial and error, and sustained commitment – you will find your own personal organization and you will create the systems you need to thrive.
I had a recent session with a writer who was feeling down….the inkwell of imagination dried up….feeling unaccomplished.
She needed to go to her files, her drawers, her closets to pull out all her printed drafts of all the work she’d done and leave them out for a while to “see” her work.
Gratifying, validating for a time, seeing all the paper piled high, she then felt a need to “see” further – She called me in and we began discerning the drafts – we separated – 1st play: version 1-8, 1st screenplay versions 1-6, etc.
At this point, she began to feel ready to purge the old drafts….a feeling of completion took over the need to see her work. In order to move on, she now needed the clarity of an empty space…a new beginning.
This process of interacting with her drafts was part of her artistic process – She was not sure if she was “done” with her plays yet —
Without throwing them out, the exercise of taking inventory re-positioned her. With clarity, she was in a new space to make decisions.
She stood in a place of readiness to be open to the next “direction” form the muse/god/ psyche….
There’s a notion in feng shui – If you’re feeling stuck with your stuff, move 20 objects…..just shift them slightly – move one pile from the left corner of your desk to the right, shift the angle of objects on a mantle piece, move the soap dish to a shelf. Shake up the energy of your environment. Sometimes it’s enough to shift your internal landscape so you can “see” what’s next –
Baby steps are effective. Remember when you were learning to walk? You’ve come a long way, baby. Keep stepping.
“I learned … that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.” -Brenda Ueland
Many of us don’t know HOW to take breaks, and some of us, have a compulsion to avoid breaks all together. This is a sign that something is off — our relationship to using time to “do” is actually unhealthy. Here are some ways we can “fill” our time that are out of alignment with our well-being:
- Shoulds– a compelling sense of obligation to someone or something outside ourselves, often motivated by fear rather than genuine need or desire.
- Time sink holes – draining situations and commitments that don’t nourish or reward us.
- Over commitment – not being able to say “No”, or deriving self-worth and definition by how much one can do.
- Distractions – time spent motivated by avoidance of what’s important.
- Preoccupations, Obsessions or Active Resentment – planning retaliation, complaining, gossiping.
- Non-Selectivity – wanting everything, now. Refusing to prioritize.
- Pushing the Edge/One More-Thing-Itis: – and getting a high off how much can be squeezed into a day and beating the clock: almost missing deadlines, important appointments, obligations to children, etc.
These behaviors can come from a poor sense of self-esteem and a need to prove oneself through accomplishment, or paradoxically, by sabotaging accomplishment.
Like may issues of esteem and worthiness, a spiritual approach can be an effective remedy.
Here are a few ways to cultivate a healing relationship to time:
- Set aside a half hour a day (use a timer) for spiritual reflection – meditation, a walk in nature, reading spiritual literature, journaling.
- Put yourself first in your day – Start your day by asking: “What do I absolutely need today to enjoy a peaceful, joyous time? What’s my self-care bottom-line? To whom and how do I effectively communicate my needs to today? What support do I have to stay on track? – Then make sure you take action on your answers.
- One-in/One-out rule for commitments – make it a standard, for every new commitment you take on, you must complete or let go of a current one of equal scope and time commitment first.
- Practice a pause before saying “Yes”. – When asked to do something you’re not sure you want to do – Say, “I’d love to think about this. Let me do that tonight, an I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”
- Make a list of lovely ways you’d like to take a break – I.e., putting on headphones and dancing around the room, making a cup of tea, walking in a nearby park, etc. Then, wen you find yourself in unhealthy distraction territory, allow yourself to take a legitimate break doing something that’s truly restorative.
- Get enough sleep, nutrition, exercise and water – self care is SO important for our brains to make good decisions and our ability to focus – suss out if any of these could be the root of your non productivity.
- Work with a professional organizer to help set up structures for your time, get accountability and ongoing support.
- For negative thoughts, obsessions, and resentments, or any other compulsive, destructive time-filling – consider the support of a therapist or Clutters Anonymous, Underearners Anonymous or Workaholics Anonymous. Many people have found they get tremendous support in changing these patterns with the support of a group.
Love this picture by Danny Ghitis of the NY Times. Tamara Mellon’s ample, luxurious desktop at home in the UES, NYC.
Do you have the work space worthy of who you are and what you do in the world?